Three sets and to the cell

An enthusiastic, neon-clad student section set the tone for an explosive match between Kennedy and Ankeny.

With tonight’s regional final match, the women of Kennedy found themselves one game from the state tournament, a position they’d been in several times before. But this time they had, among other things, the home court advantage, and for the first time since 2011, Cougar Volleyball is headed to state.

The crowd maintained a constant level of enthusiasm to match the power Kennedy was bringing to the court. Energy built on the part of both the team and the fans as set one went by 25-16, followed by set two 25-19.

Set three saw Ankeny within one or two points of Kennedy for a good portion of the match, and even leading at some points. When a kill by Macy Anderson tied the set at 23, everyone knew it was now or never.

A kill by Emma Boote brought the Cougars to match point, and a subsequent kill by Brinley Milbrath not only sent Kennedy to state, but released utter pandemonium in the gymnasium.

Kennedy administrator James Muench did his best to hold back the Jungle long enough for the team to get their pictures taken with their state qualifying banner, but it wasn’t long before the student section stormed the floor and emotion ran wild. Tears, cheers, and jumping for joy were everywhere.

“It’s indescribable,” Milbrath said, “[making state] is all I’ve ever wanted, and we finally got it because we worked as a team.”

Coach Michelle Goodall says that in the time she’s been coaching these girls she’s watched them grow in several ways that made them ready for state this year.

“They’ve learned to control the mental side of the game,” Goodall said.

For Goodall, part of the feelings and reactions to this win are from the relationships she’s developed with the team.

“It’s nice getting to know them and watching their friendships develop,” Goodall said. “It’s nice to see them kick butt too.”

This being the first trip to state for any of the girls on the court, the team is feeling confident going into the tournament.

“Whoever we face had better watch out, because we are ready,” Milbrath said.